The Sing Education guide to sourcing an instrument for your child

If you have recently signed your child up to learn a musical instrument with us at your school, thank you! We are sure that you child is going to have an enriching and fulfilling experience learning their chosen instrument over the coming years – but before they get started, they are going to need something to play on!

This guide will distil the information that is out there and give you the best options for your child!

Parents

If you have recently signed your child up to learn a musical instrument with us at your school, thank you! We are sure that you child is going to have an enriching and fulfilling experience learning their chosen instrument over the coming years – but before they get started, they are going to need something to play on!

This guide will distill the information that is out there and give you the best options for your child!

 

Guitars

I’m sure many of us had a go at learning or playing the guitar when we were young, and if we didn’t, secretly wanted to be in a rock band! The guitar is a very versatile instrument that can accompany, be the solo instrument, can be played classically, in rock bands or as jazz.

  • Guitars come in full size, 3/4 size and 1/2 size. For most children under 10 we would recommend 3/4 size guitar. For those over 10, as long as they aren’t small for their age, we would recommend a full size.
  • Nylon string (classical), steel string acoustic or electric? We recommend nylon string guitars to all of our beginners. They are easy on the hands and simple to use and set up.
  • We would recommend buying a guitar tuner for your child so that they can keep their instrument in tune easily!

Buy

  • A very good 3/4 size (also available in full and 1/2 size on the website) beginner package from Normans Music, including tuner, strap and spare strings and a bag – Normans Beginner Pack
  • For a higher quality 3/4 size instrument (also available in full size), with solid top and excellent sound quality for the price point – Admira Alba Solid Top 3/4 Size (the case is available here – Rocket 3/4 Case)

Ukeleles

The ukulele is a traditional instrument from Hawaii. Very similar to the guitar, the ukulele is very small and only has 3 strings. You child will need a soprano ukulele to learn on. Because of the relatively low cost of these instruments, we recommend you buy your child an instrument from the outset. We also recommend you buy a ukulele tuner for your child so that they can keep their instrument in tune easily!

Keyboard & Piano

The keyboard and the piano are both excellent beginner instruments for any child. Teaching them the fundamentals of music, pitch and harmony, it is hard to think of a better instrument to start out on. Keyboards and pianos vary hugely in price, so we will give you a couple of beginner options below.

  • Whether your child is learning ‘piano’ or ‘keyboard’ they will be able to start out on a relatively cheap and simple instrument. They will need to progress onto something bigger and more versatile as they improve
  • Keyboards generally have unweighted keys whereas pianos (whether electric or acoustic) have weighted keys.
  • Make sure you go for a keyboard will full size keys – not a miniature/toy keyboard!

Buy

  • This beginners Casio keyboard is great for any player wanting to start out with keyboard or piano. This comes with stand, adapter and headphones – Normans Axus Package
  • For the next step up, look at this model of Casio keyboard. Comes with stool, stand and headphones – Normans Yamaha Package
  • For fully weighted digital piano, our best buy and the instrument that we use at Sing Education is the Yamaha P125. This digital piano has a beautiful sound, is fully weighted and has an excellent action – Yamaha P125
  • For acoustic pianos, we recommend you visit a specialist music shop. We highly recommend Yamaha Music on Wardour Street (formerly Chappells).

Hire

  • Normans offer hire purchase on many of their instruments, including the Yamaha P115 listed above.
  • There are also lots of music shops that offer both long and short term rentals
Close up that shows a pair of hands resting on a black and white piano (photographed from the side on).
Female sitting in front of KS2 primary pupils, all playing recorders, next to piano, recorders black and white

Flutes

Orchestral instruments are generally more of an investment than other instruments, and this is true in our list too. There are many options when buying or renting a flute, but the basics are:

  • Make sure you are buying a ‘beginner’ flute with closed holes, and E mechanism and C footjoint (all instruments on this list below are this specification!)
  • Avoid too-good-to-be-true priced instruments! The flute is an investment that you don’t want to get wrong.
  • If your child is very small (7 years old or below) you may want to look at flutes with a curved headjoint. We recommend speaking to your instrumental teacher or visiting a specialist shop if you are unsure about size (recommendations below)

Buy

  • The Yamaha is the preferred standard for beginner players – Yamaha YFL211UK Flute Outfit Silver Plated
  • Just Flutes sell their own beginner flute too – Just Flutes JFL201E Flute
  • There are also lots of second hand flutes available on sites such as Gumtree and Ebay – look out for the Yamaha YFL211 and other flutes with the specifications above.

Hire

  • Dawkes offer a reasonable hire price on high quality Yamaha flutes – whilst more expensive in the long run, hiring for the first few months is certainly a cost effective way of letting your child get used to the instrument. This scheme includes insurance and maintenance, and they also put half of your rental payments after month 3 into a savings pot which can be used to go towards purchase of a new or second hand instrument from them – a good deal! – Dawkes – Rent A Flute

 

Recorders

The recorder is a brilliant beginner woodwind instrument, and offers many options of progression onto orchestral instruments, such as flute, oboe and clarinet, as well as being a wonderful instrument in it’s own right. Your child will need a descant recorder for their lessons. Because of the low cost of these instruments, we recommend buying straight off. Below are two options:

Violins

The violin has been the backbone of orchestras for hundreds of years and still is one of the most popular instruments to learn. Learning to play the violin has its own unique, specific benefits. From the way it is played to the many types of music that use this instrument, you are sure to find compelling reasons to pick up the violin yourself.

  • When looking for a violin for your child, the best place to start is your local violin shop. They will be able to give you tailored advice for your first instrument – however, we have put some recommendations below.
  • Sizing is very important when it comes to the violin. This is something a store can help with but click here to view a useful guide from Norman’s music to get you started.

Buy

  • The standard choice for beginner violists is the Stentor brand of instruments. Check your size and look for the beginner/student models. The Stentor 1018 is a great choice to get you started.
  • See a selection of beginner violins on the Normans website – click here.
Close up-Male playing violin, violin brown, black neck and tailpiece, male holding brown bow with white hairs

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